Just a quick blog post to let you know I am switching off Intense Debate for comments. I have grown frustrated by two issues:
Even frequent commenters are thrown into moderation every single time because they don’t login using one of the accounts associated with Intense Debate (Intense Debate itself, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress).
Despite the fact that WordPress itself has a feature that allows me to close comments on old posts, Intense Debate bypasses this setting and allows comments on old posts. Comments on old posts are always of two kinds 1) spam, 2) disagreeable trolls who haven’t realized the conversation ended seven years ago. And the only person who sees those two types of comments is me, anyway, as everyone else has moved on.
I’m just tired of dealing with it. I am going to try something different, and I wanted to let you know just in case comments are wonky. I may need some time to straighten out the comments. Thanks for your patience.
Before I get into the meat of this post, I wanted to mention that I’ve been having some issues with pages taking a long time to load and general slowness on this site. I put in a help ticket with my web host after trying to fix it myself without much success. The site appears to be running more smoothly, so even though I haven’t heard from my host, I am wondering if they took a look already and figured out the problem. At any rate, please be patient with me if you are having issues.
This year, I am trying a new experiment using Evernote for my lesson plans. I love Evernote. I use it quite extensively for personal note-taking, such as keeping my soap-making journal, planning trips, and the random article or PDF I want to save. I have Evernote Premium, which allows me to annotate and take notes on PDF’s as well. I also have offline access to notes, higher monthly uploads, and some other additional features, but I mainly wanted to be able to annotate PDF’s without using a separate app.
As much as I use Evernote, I wasn’t really using it for lesson planning at all. When I inquired on Twitter, I discovered Jim Burke would not be publishing a 2014-2015 Teacher’s Daybook. I had decided to go back to the Daybook after trying an electronic planbook that was brilliant, but just wasn’t working for me (not sure why). I was bummed about the Daybook, and though Jim publishes the templates online, I just didn’t want to print them out. Something told me that I wouldn’t stick with it. I happened on Nick Provenzano’s post about using Evernote to plan a while back, and I decided to give it a shot, particularly since I already liked Evernote.
First, I created Evernote notebooks for each of my classes. This process is fairly straightforward, so I’ll skip the explanation, but if you have trouble with it, feel free to ask for clarification in the comments.
I created a calendar template next. The dates can easily be changed each month. In order to create new calendar notes, I use the following process:
Navigate to the appropriate notebook (in my case, World Literature II or American Studies in Literature—whatever you called your class).
Add a new note and name it with the correct month and year.
Go to my calendar template note and copy the text in the note (the calendar grid).
Paste the text into my new note.
After I created the calendar template, I created a daily lesson plan template. This template suits my needs. It includes my school’s Portrait of a Learner (objectives), which are not as extensive or complicated as CCSS. This template forces me to think about a good hook or interest grabber at the start and how to tie everything back together at the end of the lesson with a good wrap up. In between, I can list all the parts of the lesson with detail. I can think about which areas of Bloom’s Taxonomy the lesson addresses and be thoughtful about the kind of homework (if any) required. My favorite part, however, is a reflection. After the lesson, at the end of the day usually, I take about five minutes and write short reflections on the lessons.
I can link the daily lessons on the calendar template by right-clicking on the note and selecting “Copy Note Link” in Evernote. Here is Evernote’s Knowledge Base article on this topic in case you need help. Then I paste that note link on the appropriate date in the calendar, and I have a nice, linked up monthly planner that organizes my daily plans.
In addition, I use tags, such as unit titles, course titles, book or other literary work titles, authors, and types of lesson (e. g. writing workshop) to further link my notes. I can then search my notebooks using any of these tags and see all my lessons from a given unit, course, etc.
Evernote notebooks can be shared, so using Evernote is a solution for teachers who are planning together as well.
So far, I am liking it quite a bit. I’ll keep you posted on the experiment.
If you’ve been having trouble commenting, the problem has been fixed. Sorry for any inconvenience. It looks like a couple of my WordPress plugins didn’t play well together. Thanks to Nancy and Beverly for letting me know about the issue. Any time you have difficulty using the site, I appreciate it if you let me know so I can fix it.
Those of you who receive post updates in your inbox will want to take note of some changes. Up until now, I have used Feedblitz to manage email subscriptions. However, in order to streamline services and make things a little easier for me, I am discontinuing support for old Feedblitz subscriptions as of one week from today, July 8. At that time, I will delete my Feedblitz account. If you would like to continue to receive posts in your inbox, please visit the blog at huffenglish.com (assuming you are receiving this post in your email), and look for “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” in the sidebar on the right of the page. Enter your email address and click the “Subscribe” button. You might receive posts twice during the one-week grace period until I delete Feedblitz. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I have been dissatisfied with the Feedblitz option for some time, and it is my hope that if you want to continue to receive posts via email, this option will work for you.
In other blog-related news, after many years, I have changed the blog theme. If you are interested, I have installed the Twenty Eleven theme from WordPress. I like the font and the clean look. I have streamlined some of the sidebar content. You can also now find my links, categories, and a tag cloud on the bottom of the page. My links area used to be on the upper left hand side under the disclaimer. I link to several social networks and other sites, such as the English Companion Ning, and some of my website content that for whatever reason I didn’t want in the navigation bar on the top.
Let me know if you are having any trouble finding things. I hope you will find the site just as easy (perhaps easier) to navigate.
I have shared a lot of resources on this blog. I used to use a plugin called Apture (until it was discontinued) to manage some of the different kinds of links. For some reason, all the documents I uploaded while using that plugin were pushed to Scribd and set to private. I don’t actually have access to those documents in order to set them to public. I occasionally receive requests from people to allow access to these documents, but I can’t. I actually don’t have access to them. I do not have an account with Scribd. The documents were not uploaded to any account that I have access to.
The disappointment that I feel over the way Apture handled the discontinuation of the plugin, which caused me quite a few problems with this site and others I run, is the subject of another blog post, but suffice it to say I think they care very little about their customers, and their latest announcement that they have been acquired by Google are discontinuing all their products and services altogether on fairly short notice should surprise no one who has used their plugins. The links I created when I used this plugin still work, but the documents are, unfortunately, lost. I imagine I have them somewhere, but recreating the links and uploading the documents in all those posts would be a rather large task.
Sometimes people email requests for these documents and for others, and I have forgotten to respond. It is not that I am a terrible person who does not like to share. I do share. Quite a lot. It’s that I sometimes get terribly busy, and if I remember to send the documents, I might not be sending them in time for you to use them for your classes. That doesn’t do anyone any good.
If I do not respond to your request, that is probably why. I like to be helpful, but, if I can be honest, very few people offer any sort of a donation or exchange (such as lessons or handouts I might like). I don’t like the idea of charging for the content I provide here, and I haven’t been too successful in the past at attempting to monetize it when I have tried to go that route. People seem to feel resentful that I have asked for what I thought was fair compensation for the work I have done. I probably invited that resentment by offering so much stuff for free in the first place. Keeping up with all the requests I receive for resources has just become too difficult.
In short, sharing materials here on the blog is all the time I am able to donate towards sharing resources. If it isn’t here, I’m sorry, but I can’t provide it. I cannot email you copies of documents or create custom documents for you. I do not want to disappoint anyone, but I actually do receive quite a lot of these kinds of requests. It might seem to the requester that it’s a simple favor to ask, but it takes time to respond to each request and to find the materials in the first place, as I have materials on my computer a work, at home, and on various flash drives. When I haven’t used a particular resource in a long time, even if it is new and or relevant to readers here, it may be difficult for me to find.
Please feel free to use and adapt (with credit, please) the materials I share on this site, but I regret to say that I am unable to respond to future requests asking me to email you materials.
If you are looking for the materials I shared on this post about the hero’s journey, please be aware I plan to share them at NCTE when I present, and I may be able to post them here again when I have the opportunity.
Some visitors, particularly if you read the site and not the RSS feed, may have noticed that this site is enhanced with Apture. Apture is really beneficial to me because it enables me to create links to information really easily. I’m not sure if it’s of any benefit to users or not, other than you can view information in small popup windows before deciding whether you want to leave the site to go look at it.
Apture has released a new function that I have been dithering about adding called the Apture Site Bar. Here you can read some more about it. If you visit the site and scroll down, you can see an Apture Site Bar in action. Please go check it out and come back.
How would you feel about visiting this site with an Apture Site Bar at the top?
I think it would add some functionality to the site. Go for it. (86%)
It wouldn't bother me, but I don't think it adds any functionality. (14%)
I closed comments on this blog for posts older than 365 days. My reasons for doing so are that usually, regular readers and commenters (yes, I spelled that correctly, just in case you were wondering) have often moved on by the time a latecomer discovers the post, and I wind up being the only one who responds to the comment. Of course, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that I alone respond, but it’s not the kind of conversation I’ve become accustomed to. I decided that closing comments could be a kind of signal that we’ve all moved on and we’re not talking about that post anymore.
When I remembered today that WordPress 2.7 enabled threaded comments, I decided to try to implement them here on this blog. While enabled threaded comments within the content management system involved only checking a box, I realized my theme didn’t support threaded comments. I tried to follow instructions for modifying my theme that I found online, but I messed it up somehow, so I checked out Cutline’s Web site (that’s the name of the theme I use), and lo and behold, they had created an updated version with support for threaded comments. I updated the theme. Now you can reply to commenters as well as to me, and it will be perhaps a little more clear who is being addressed in comments.
I also added some sharing and saving capability. On the bottom of each post, you’ll see a new button with a few familiar icons: the share icon (or at least it’s used by Shareaholic, the Firefox add-on), Delicious, and Facebook. If you mouse over that button, you’ll discover lots of ways to share and/or save the post. Just about every kind of social bookmarking, networking, and note-taking service is included. You can also e-mail the post or bookmark it directly in your browser. I removed the Feedburner FeedFlare, which enabled sharing by e-mail, Delicious, and Facebook, from each post. Essentially the new sharing/saving feature does much more in the way of allowing for users to save and share content that I decided it wasn’t needed. If you care, the plugin I used to create this button is called Add to Any.
The new theme handles a few tiny details differently. For instance, there is now a frame around images inside posts. I kind of like it, so I left it there. If there is some element of functionality you miss that I’ve forgotten to implement again after the upgrade, please let me know.
If it takes a while for your comment to appear, please be patient. I am not receiving e-mails when I receive comments that are in moderation, and I haven’t seen them until I have logged in. If your comment doesn’t appear after a few days, and you know you’ve followed the comment policies, you can contact me and see if I know what happened — most likely I missed it somehow. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Thanks to the wonderful Ms. Place of one of my favorite blogs, Jane Austen’s World, I discovered that a plugin (WP Super Cache) I installed was wreaking havoc on my site. The problem is that I ignored one of Donncha’s directives — that fancy permalinks are a requirement for the plugin — so it’s my own fault; however, as I don’t really need the plugin (as far as I know, I’ve never had my site submitted to /. , Digg, or Reddit), I decided to just disable and delete. I wasn’t able to reproduce one error reported — that permalinks and archives were redirecting to the index page — and I suspect that is because I was logged in and was not seeing a Super Cached page. I think Ms. Place was seeing a Super Cached page that served up that error with permalinks (my fault for not listening to Donncha) because I don’t think she has commented here before, or at any rate, she has not commented regularly. In addition, my RSS feeds were broken, or at least were not updating properly, and when I left test comments, I was unable to see the published comment. I also use some plugins that Donncha explicitly said don’t play nicely with WP Super Cache, so what I have learned is to listen to Donncha!
If you are so inclined, I would appreciate it very much if you could test to see if you are having problems with any of the permalinks or archives, RSS feeds updating in your feed reader (if you subscribe), and commenting. Keep in mind comments are moderated based on the Spam Karma plugin. Your karma has to reach a certain level before they post automatically — some of you all are already there.
I apologize for the inconvenience. Also, those of you who follow me on my Feedburner feed, I am going to stop sending you my del.icio.us links now that I have an RSS feed for them in the sidebar. I hope this won’t be an inconvenience — it is possible to subscribe to my del.icio.us feed if you find them useful. I’m going to attempt to redirect my other feeds to my Feedburner feed — crossing my fingers that I don’t break my site. Again.